Characterization in Novels
Bodenheimer, Rosemarie.  The Politics of Story in Victorian Social Fiction (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988): 135-150.
Bodenheimer declares that the chaotic nature of Alton Locke is due to the novel's original composition.  It was written during 1849 and 1850 in “unchronological fragments” (135).  Kingsley displays an acute ambivalence throughout the work.  His middle class sensibility fired by class sympathy results in “something like pathology” (137).  “Alton Locke oscillates wildly between its commitment to the circumstances of working-class life and its yearning for a pastoral world, until it finally collapses into a dream vision that resolves the conflict by changing the meanings of its original terms.  In the process Kingsley inadvertently deconstructs the ideological opposition between social conflict and pastoral harmony, producing versions of pastoral that reveal on the one hand its reliance on aristocratic society and on the other its evolutionary connection with human drives to lust and power” (135).

Alton Locke; Social and Political Views; Characterization in Novels.

Cripps, Elizabeth A. "Introduction," Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet: An Autobiography (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1983): vii-xx.
Cripps introduces Alton Locke by considering the context of the troubled Chartist times in which it was both written and set.  She also briefly discusses the novel's publication history, its reception by the critics, and its representation of many of Kingsley's social and political views.  She regrets on literary grounds that Kingsley revised the Cambridge part of the novel.  Praising for the most part the characterization in the novel, Cripps also lauds its graphic depictions.

Alton Locke; Chartism; Social and Political Novel; Social and Political Views; Cambridge University; Characterization in Novels.

Graziano, Anne.  “The Death of the Working-Class Hero in Mary Barton and Alton Locke,JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory Vol. 29, No. 2 (Spring 1999): 135-57.
Graziano discusses the status and especially the death of John Barton and Alton Locke in the novels of Gaskell and Kingsley.  On the one hand, it may appear that the authors’ aversion to extreme working class radicalism have led them to kill off their heroes out of sympathy to higher class loyalties.  However, Graziano argues that a close examination of the structure of the novel reveals a more complicated reason for the demise of Barton and Locke than the authors’ political conservatism.  “. . . it is not a turn away from a positive representational status so much as a development of early implications and contradictions that accounts for the heroes’ ‘fall’” (136-7).  The heroes’ failure and deaths “are enacted through the constraining opportunities and conventions of the genre.  And thus the politics of the moment cannot adequately explain why Gaskell and Kingsley begin with potentially viable heroes and end with corpses” (151).

Alton Locke; Gaskell  (Mary Barton); Characterization in Novels; Social and Political Views.

Hodgson, Amanda.  "Defining the Species: Apes, Savages and Humans in Scientific and Literary Writing of the 1860s," Journal of Victorian Culture Vol. 4, No. 2 (Autumn 1999): 228-251.
Hodgson examines The Water-Babies, and particularly the characterization of Tom, in the context of the contemporary desire to distinguish humans from animals, especially apes, and the complementary efforts to define the distinctions between white civilized Europeans and "savages".  Her principal aim is to examine the relationship of this children's story to contemporary scientific theories on the nature of species as well as to compare the novel to Browning's 'Caliban upon Setebos'.

The Water-Babies; Science; Evolution; Huxley; Characterization in Novels.

Howells, W. D.  “Charles Kingsley’s Hypatia,” in Heroines of Fiction Vol. II (New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1901): 1-13.
Howells examines the novel Hypatia and concludes that it was not an artistic success.  Though capable of writing a greater work about fifth century Alexandria, Kingsley failed in his attempt mainly due to the weak representation of Hypatia herself, an unattractive and “rather repellent” character (6).  Howells considers Kingsley’s novel to be on a far higher plane than Bulwer Lytton’s The Last Days of Pompeii, yet falls below it in artistic effect.  While Bulwer was at least a melodramatist, “Kingsley was no dramatist at all, but an exalted moralist willing to borrow the theatre for the ends of the church.  If we realize this we shall understand why his figures seem to have come out of the property-room by way of the vestry” (8).  Howells praises Alton Locke for its potent protest against aspects of society’s injustices, yet criticizes it on artistic grounds as being excessively polemical.

Hypatia; Characterization in Novels; Reception of Kingsley's Works; Lytton, Bulwer.

Karl, Frederick R.  An Age of Fiction: The Nineteenth Century British Novel (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1964): 333-337.
In his treatment of Alton Locke Karl focuses on Kingsley’s social and political views.  Locke comes to believe that the Chartist goals, and all political and social aims, can only be realized if linked to Christianity, a belief earnestly held by Kingsley.  However, Karl declares that Kingsley’s argument turns into the “hollow rhetoric” of those who, fearing radical change, advise prudence (335).  The working classes must wait until others decide it is time for their equality; they must not decide for themselves.  Because of what he considers the weakness of this thesis, Karl believes that Alton Locke has a “flabby intellectual spine”.  While the novel is praised for some excellent scenes, the characters when they think or act appear “platitudinous or intellectually shallow”.  Karl’s conclusion is that Kingsley, despite his compassion for the poor, “has not worn well, but less for the old-fashioned nature of his narrative than for the intellectual assumptions behind the novel” (336).

Alton Locke; Social and Political Views; Religion; Characterization in Novels.

Melville, Lewis.  “The Centenary of Charles Kingsley,” Contemporary Review Vol. 115 (June 1919): 670-674.
Melville’s appreciation of Kingsley’s life and works contains little that he did not write in his 1906 Victorian Novelists.  However, he is more certain this time that Westward Ho! is Kingsley’s best work.  “The deeds of derring–do in the South Seas and on the Spanish Main, and the story of the defeat of the great Armada are admirably told, and are comparable with similar episodes in the best works of any other author.  There Kingsley is at his best, and his best is very good indeed” (674).

Overview; Poetry; Characterization in Novels; Westward Ho!.

Melville, Lewis.  "Charles Kingsley," in his Victorian Novelists (London: Archibald Constable, 1906): 106-124.
Melville reviews Kingsley’s life and works.  He praises some of  Kingsley’s shorter poems though considering that his poetry in general is not up to the standard of his romances.  Yeast is more a pamphlet than a novel and is spoiled by Kingsley’s dissertations on his own views.  Though the story of Alton Locke is slight, the novel’s characterization is superior to that of Yeast.  Melville praises Hypatia for its “brilliant and forcible picture of life”, for its fine characterization, and its good planning.  It is, however, “sometimes stagey, and often melodramatic, and not infrequently grandiloquent” (114, 118).  Westward Ho! is Kingsley’s most successful novel though it does not quite reach the level of Hypatia.  Melville singles out Kingsley’s command of language and his scene-painting.  “. . . it is this power of description that distinguishes him above his contemporaries, with the exception, perhaps of Disraeli; indeed, places him in this respect above all writers since Scott, and even Scott’s landscape does not always seem so spontaneous” (124).

Overview; Novels; Poetry; Characterization in Novels.

Muller, Charles H.  “Westward Ho! -- Sermon in the Guise of  Adventure,” UNISA English Studies Vol. 23, No. 1 (1985): 15-20.
Muller argues that Kingsley’s primary purpose in Westward Ho! was a moral one, the reinforcement of English Protestant values. The adventure story was clearly secondary to the delineation of the characters’ virtues and sins.  In addition to Kingsley’s own sermonizing commentary, the characters epitomize Christian and moral purpose.  For example, Eustace personifies moral failure, Amyas typifies perfect Christian ideals.  Such themes as self-rule, personal or self sacrifice, and divine providence pervade the novel.  Muller also stresses the important virtuous and moral qualities as depicted in the novel’s women characters, Amyas’s mother, Mrs Leigh, Rose Salterne, Ayacanora.  Kingsley’s message, according to Muller, “to all his masculine readers is, to value the spiritualising love of woman; and to his women readers, to emulate the spiritual example of this perfect Christian woman” (20).

Westward Ho!; Moral Lessons; Females; Characterization in Novels.


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